DDS lives on in new DAT product

Certance, formerly the Removable Storage Solutions branch of Seagate, has resurrected the DDS tape roadmap with the introduction of the DAT 72 Format.

Reports about the death of the digital data storage (DDS) tape format may have been slightly exaggerated.

A Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company called Certance, formerly the Removable Storage Solutions branch of Seagate Technology, has resurrected the DDS roadmap with the introduction of the DAT 72 Format, which the company claims is the fifth generation of DDS with more capacity and faster transfer rates.

The DAT 72 family features approximately 72GB of compressed storage capacity and data transfer rates of up to 25.2GB/hour compressed. The DAT 72 tape drives will also enable backward read-and-write compatibility to DDS-3 and DDS-4 formats.

Mike Lakowicz, vice president of product strategy and business development, said Certance is "steadfastly" committed to extend DDS technology and announced the DAT 72 product specifications for the product family will be made public early this summer.

The company plans to target its DAT 72 line at entry-level IT environments that use SCSI-interfaces as part of their backup and restore and disaster recovery plans. Certance said a high percentage of users have utilized DDS technology as their backup and archiving method of choice and have existing investments in DDS media.

Certance said the DAT 72 family interoperates with Windows, Novell, UNIX, Linux and MacOS operating platforms.

More than a year ago, many vendors abandoned the DDS format in favor of developing higher capacity tape technologies such as VXA, AIT, LTO and DLT.

For example, Sony Electronics discontinued its DDS product line in 2001 and instead turned to a new set of advanced intelligent tape (AIT) solutions as a migration path for customers seeking to transition from the DDS tape format.

The company said that after DDS format's 10-year run, a new member of the DDS line, offering substantial improvements in both capacity and performance beyond DDS-4, was not practical given the realities of time-to-market and technology investment constraints.

But the lag time between the fourth and fifth generations may mean a new DDS format is too little, too late for some users.

Christopher Stewart of SoftPak Financial Systems was a long-time DDS user and decided to move to VXA technology last month. "We have been pleasantly surprised with the price [and] performance of the VXA-2 drive."

Stewart said his company was hesitant to commit to VXA technology due to the financial risks involved with its manufacturer, Exabyte Corp., but after learning that Dell Computer Corp. was offering VXA to their client base, they committed to bringing the technology in-house.

"As far as staying with DDS technology, there are ultimately limitations to how far it can evolve," Stewart said. "The DDS replacement market represents a huge opportunity for both AIT and VXA technology. We like what we have seen with VXA."

SoftPak currently plans to transition all 10 of its backup systems to VXA-2 technology by the third quarter of 2003.

According to the online technical dictionary WhatIs.com, DDS is a format for storing and backing up computer data on tape that evolved from the digital audio tape (DAT) technology. DAT was created for CD-quality audio recording. In --> 89, Sony and Hewlett Packard defined the DDS format for data storage using DAT tape cartridges. Tapes conforming to the DDS format can be played by either DAT or DDS tape drives. However, DDS tape drives cannot play DAT tapes since they can't pick up the audio on the DAT tape.

Prior to Certance's DAT 72 there were four types of DDS drives. The latest, DDS-4, stored up to 40GB of data on a 125-minute cartridge and was targeted at small-to-mid-sized businesses.

A DDS cartridge needs to be retired after 2,000 passes or 100 full backups, according to WhatIs.com. It suggests you clean your DDS tape drive every 24 hours with a cleaning cartridge and discard the cleaning cartridge after 30 cleanings. DDS tapes have an expected life of at least 10 years.

Certance builds tape backup products and data recovery solutions including LTO Ultrium, DDS/DAT and Travan technologies.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer.

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